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Unsatisfactory Delivery Of Orthodontic Services In Tipperary

Deputy Noel Coonan has expressed concern over the delivery of orthodontic services in the Mid-West Area which includes his North Tipperary constituency.

A meeting for parents and guardians whose children are on the public orthodontic waiting lists will be held next week in Limerick to point out the urgency of the situation and give advice on children who cannot receive treatment as immediately as needed.

Selection for eligibility will be discussed, as will the unsatisfactory waiting times. In 2002, the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children examined the issue of orthodontic service in Ireland and subsequently expressed its ‘total dissatisfaction’ with the service. The Committee had held a series of public meetings and heard evidence from a number of invited groups, organisations and individuals.

Deputy Coonan stated:

“A Consultant Orthodontist from the Mid-West region, Dr Ted McNamara, will highlight, at next week’s meeting, how the Joint Committee’s recommendations from both 2002 and 2005 still await implementation. It was stated in previous years that all the difficulties experienced by Orthodontics can be traced back to the Department of Health and Children, but Dr. McNamara and colleagues have recommendations that now must be heeded for the safe development of our children. Dr. McNamara is devoted to improving regional orthodontic departments and providing a top quality and efficient service. In 2002, the Joint Committee said that the interests of children are paramount and must take precedence over all other interests yet eight years later extensive waiting times still exist and the situation needs to drastically improve. When the Dáil reconvenes shortly, I will raise this issue with the Minister for Health and Children to implement the committees’ recommendations and provide earlier intervention. We need to decrease the time from when a child is placed on the list and receives treatment. This Government has reduced expenditure in the State adult dental schemes but it must make an exception and employ more staff including consultants and specialist orthodontists.”

On July 13th of this year, the Joint Committee met again, where orthodontic experts reiterated that “early treatment is a priority for improved clinical and psychological outcomes for children.”

Waiting lists have been affected by the recruitment embargo and lists need to be clinically validated to ensure that those who will benefit most from early intervention are assessed first and treated early. It was agreed that different categories must be put in place so the list is clearer and less worrying for those observing.

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